Thomas O. Turay, President for the Sierra Leone Artisanal Fishermen
By Musa Kamara
In an exclusive engagement with the President of the Sierra Leone Artisanal Fishermen and also formerly the President of the West African Professional Fishermen Organization, Thomas O. Turay, presented explicit recommendations to President Bio’s led New Direction Administration and precisely to the Ministries of Tourism, Agriculture, Fishery and the newly established Environmental Ministry, and in which recommendations, he calls on government to put a total banned on the monofilament fish nets.
He maintained that such nets have contributed to the huge loss of over 25 species of fish, citing tarpon, sow fish, amongst others and this he added is due to excessive use of the monofilament nets, and such nets he described has the same colour like that of water and because of the huge catch, some of the fishes have gone extinct.
He also called on the government and other professional bodies to not only depend on their expertise or university knowledge to determine the weather conditions at sea, but however, he keenly advised that artisanal fishermen have a lot to offer in such direction, and this is so because such fishermen are very familiar with the sea and clearly know when to fish and where to cast their nets.
“The artisanal sector should be included in the highest decision making body of government,” he advised.
Turay also proposed that the New Direction Government through the Ministry of Fishery and Marine Resources should put stringent measures in place to clearly ensure that the 36,000 registered fishermen across the country pay their dues and on time.
He ardently underscored that the fishing sector has a lot to offer to the economy and government should do all it takes to put premium on fishing, and the fish sector can alleviate poverty if properly managed.
He further proposed that the artisanal fishermen because of their vast knowledge at sea, they should be empowered to serve as guards, and by such he added illegal fishing would be curtailed.
“We need such empowerment to help patrol our waters because uniformed personnel are easily identified and those engaged in illicit fishing would easily escape,” he informed.